Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Playground to go from Auckland waterfront

The childrens playground will go and be turned into a tower block. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The childrens playground will go and be turned into a tower block. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The children's playground at the hugely popular Wynyard Quarter is set to be replaced by a towerblock, says the Heart of the City business group.

Chief executive Alex Swney says Aucklanders are loving the new open spaces at Wynyard Quarter but blissfully unaware of plans for high-rise towers on the playground and other open spaces in a draft waterfront plan.

Yesterday, Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell refused to comment on any plans to tear up the playground, which has been a huge hit with families since it opened in August.

Waterfront Auckland communications manager Luke Henshall said having digested Mr Swney's comments, "we won't be providing comment on this".

The playground is part of the first stage of public improvements at Wynyard Quarter costing $120 million.

Heart of the City is today launching a campaign highlighting what it sees as some of the problems with the draft Auckland, waterfront and city centre masterplans.

They say problems include allowing high-rise development on Wynyard Quarter and expanding the port to increase the number of containers from 890,000 to four million.

Heart of the City, which successfully campaigned in 2006 to increase the size of the headland park at Wynyard Quarter to 4.25ha, does not want new planning rules that provide high rise buildings in Wynyard Quarter in the Auckland and waterfront plans.

The business group is opposed to the $126 million ASB headquarters rising more than 50m near the waterfront at Wynyard Quarter, saying high-rise buildings should be located further back towards Victoria Park.

The other issue being raised by the business group is the future of the port operations.

"We are a strong supporter of the ports, but this part of our waterfront is not going to be able to manage and handle the sort of containers growth that is going on around the world," Mr Swney said.

He said no one was joining the dots with boulevarding Quay St and expanding the port further into the Waitemata Harbour along with $1.7 billion of roading upgrades in Grafton Gully and rail upgrades to South Auckland.

The draft city centre masterplan said the port would develop "largely on the same footprint", but there were plans to extend Bledisloe Wharf from 490m to more than 740m. The wharf would stretch so far into the Waitemata Harbour that eastern views of the harbour from Queens Wharf would disappear, Mr Swney said.

A Ports of Auckland spokeswoman said Heart of the City had significantly overstated its expansion plans. Container numbers were forecast to increase to between 3 million and 3.5 million, not by 4 million.

She said the current concept drawings would increase the area of the port by 27 per cent and not extend beyond the current zoned port area.

The planning strategy between the ports company and stakeholders had allowed for the release of about 75ha of land - half the original footprint - for public use in the west, such as Wynyard Quarter and Queens Wharf.

Expanding Bledisloe Wharf to accommodate two ships to cater for additional trade volumes would enable the release of Captain Cook wharf for public use within about 10 years, she said.

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Going, going ...

The children's playground (left) at Wynyard Quarter is set to be replaced by a tower block.

There are also plans to extend Bledisloe Wharf from 490m to more than 740m.

This means the wharf would stretch so far into the Waitemata Harbour that eastern views of the harbour from Queens Wharf would disappear.

- NZ Herald

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